Making the City Playable: Imagining and making the cities of the future

10th September 2014 – 11th September 2014  |  Watershed, Bristol

Making the City Playable – Convened by Watershed, the Festival of Ideas and UWE Bristol’s Digital Cultures Research Centre and featuring Google Creative Lab’s Tom Uglow, DCRC’s Tine Bech and Seth Giddings, architect Usman Haque, artist Luke Jerram, and Ogilvy’s Tara Austin this two-day international conference will explore the theme of the ‘Playable City’, asking what it might mean for citizens, urban planners, tech giants, small companies, artists and designers in imagining and making the cities of the future.

Playable City is a people-centred counterpoint to the notion of the Smart City, challenging public narratives around technology-driven cities which often feature a fear of isolation, or the extinction of community and conversation.

At Watershed Bristol on 10 and 11 September, we will be bringing together a brilliant group of thinkers, makers, planners and civil disobedients to look at cities as playable places and ask the question: how do we make and unmake our future cities?

Spaces are limited and tickets are moving fast. Book your spot here!


The conference will feature playful interventions, networking, debate and discussion, artist commissions and an academic strand with two contrasting panels:

Forms of Engagement
There’s no point in creating playable experiences unless people are willing to play. This session considers approaches to public engagement – the tactics, devices and occasions through which passers-by become players.

  • Enchanted rabbit holes: inviting play in the city – The Larks, Greg Foster (University of Salford) and Jana Wendler (University of Manchester) UK
  • Cities with a Sense of Humour – Anton Nijholt (University of Twente) Netherlands
Temporary Encounters – Signe Brink Pedersen (Aalborg University) Denmark

This session brings perspectives from philosophy, education and games together to look at the playable city through the lens of age. The session proposes a contract between the city and its citizens – in which people of all ages have their needs for a playable environment met.

  • Cities of the future with the children of the present: from neighborhood to childhood – Hugo Monteiro & Maria José Araújo (Polytechnic Institute of Porto) Portugal
  • The already-playable city: children’s outdoor play in the age of virtual media – Seth Giddings (UWE Bristol) UK
  • Drøme methodology: Serious Urban Games – Lieve Achten ([ew32] KHLim – PXL) Annelies Marechal ([ew32]) Netherlands
  • Playable public places for later life – Ben Spencer (Oxford Brookes University) UK

The academic strand is convened by Dr Michael Buser (Planning & Architecture, UWE Bristol),Dr Kirsten Cater (Computer Science, University of Bristol), Professor Jon Dovey (Screen Media, UWE Bristol), Associate Professor Mandy Rose (Digital Cultures, UWE Bristol) and Dr Angie Page (Policy Studies, University of Bristol).

As part of the conference we will unveil Shadowing by Jonathan Chomko and Matthew Rosier, the winning project of the 2014 Playable City Award. This brand-new artwork will give memory to Bristol’s city street lights, enabling them to record and play back the shadows of those who pass underneath, inviting interaction between those who share a space.

For more information on the conference programme and speakers, visit Making the City Playable Conference.